In a world that is increasingly centered around technology, it is becoming more important that there is a familiarity with this technology in the younger generations. This is a major reason that many educational institutions are taking strides to adopt and encourage the use of technology in the classroom from an early age. As a result, there have also been some observable benefits.
Technology in K-12
Again, the world is more reliant on technology than ever before, with no indication that this reliance will decrease - or even stop increasing - anytime soon. This means it is only more important for students to be introduced to technology early and taught to use it for productive, practical applications.
More immediately, education technology carries with it numerous potential benefits for both educators and those being educated.
- Personalized Approach - Any educator worth their salt will tell you that the methods needed to teach one child can be (and almost definitely are) vastly different than the approach it takes to properly teach another - not to mention the differences in progress that can be seen in just about every classroom between the students. Technology can be used to not only assess each student’s progress, but also to customize their experience so they can progress at a rate that suits their learning style.
Speaking of their learning style, technology also enables each student to learn they way that they are best suited to as an individual. Again, programs can evaluate the most effective way to teach a particular student and present the material in that format. This also helps the student feel more in control of their own education, and thereby invested in it, motivating them to work harder and learn more.
- Improved Insights and Data - One of the most important parts of teaching is to identify if a classroom isn’t effectively progressing as they should be, and why. Educational technology can contribute to that end by providing data into the precise places that their students are encountering difficulty in their work. This information could allow teachers to adjust their lessons and address the true pain points that students have, rather than relying on them to raise their hands and ask.
- Increased Responsibility of the Student - Students require engagement in order to effectively learn, something that teachers find it increasingly difficult to provide with swelling class sizes and a corresponding decrease in the time that can be spent with each of their pupils. Again, thanks to the personalization and independence that technology can supplement their education with, a student doesn’t necessarily require as much direct attention from their teacher to learn. This allows a teacher to direct their focus to those students who may still need additional, one-on-one assistance.
Furthermore, entrusting devices to students encourages them to be more responsible. Those in younger grades can be taught concepts of respecting possessions (especially those that don’t belong to them), while older students can be taught the importance of safe and responsible technology usage.
- Skill Development and Cooperation - The purpose of education is to prepare children for their lives as adults, to practice learning so they will have the skills they need to adapt more efficiently to new circumstances and responsibilities in the future. As mentioned before, the world is increasingly tech-reliant, so a familiarity with the concepts of technology is going to be crucial for students later on in their lives. Furthermore, the world is also a highly collaborative place, so allowing students to leverage technology now to practice using it to work together only prepares them better for the expectations of adult life.
Collegiate Technology Use
Of course, technology has also taken a much larger role in colleges and universities, as evidenced first and foremost by the existence of online degree programs. However, this is by no means the extent of technology use at this level. Many schools now manage the majority of their student affairs online, from submitting assignments through email and online portals to signing up for classes. This has all led to college being much more accessible for many, as physical distance or other responsibilities no longer have to stand in a potential student’s way.
Is It Enough?
While it may be easy to view education technology as a means of minimizing a teacher’s role in the classroom, perhaps to ultimately replace it, many teachers see it in a very different light. In fact, the biggest criticisms are made for a very different reason: many educators are concerned that the solutions being developed aren’t fulfilling their real needs.
Educators across the United States have spoken out, stating that developers and designers are creating educational tools that aren’t effectively addressing the real shortcomings that educators are experiencing. However, rather than simply casting criticism, these educators are also calling for an open dialogue so that the solutions that they really need can be created.
For instance, when considering the needs of education, the administrative side of things is easily overlooked. A means of digitizing student records or ensuring compliance to special education standards would also be a huge benefit to a district.
What Comes Next?
As with anything, education will continue to evolve as new technologies are released, and teachers and students alike will have to adapt. Of course, some things will stay the same - as one teacher said, “My Chromebook wasn’t charged,” has become the new “My dog ate my homework.” There is going to be a definite learning curve, so to speak, but as educational technology becomes more the norm and improves, education will likely improve with it.
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